1 9 6 4 – 1 9 6 9 (USA)
Linus was a lion who ruled the jungle and all of the animals in it. He also happened to be the mascot of Post’s Krispy Kritters cereal. In fact, the entire cartoon was essentially a forum for General Foods to promote their cereals.
Linus the Lionhearted was created at a time when the line between commercials and programmes had not yet clearly been defined.
Aside from Linus, the show included segments starring Sugar Bear, So-Hi, Rory Raccoon, and postman Lovable Truly, all spokesmen for different General Foods cereals.
Linus’ own segments were extensions of the animated commercials he had starred in with pals Sacha Grouse, Billie Bird, and Dinny Kangaroo in earlier years.
In Sugar Bear’s segment, each and every episode consisted of the Bear trying to con Granny Goodwitch into giving him a free breakfast, including some delicious Sugar Crisp Cereal.
So-Hi, a stereotypical young Chinese boy, would present his segment in the form of a fable. At the end of each cartoon, the Rice Krinkles spokesperson would pose the question, “Moral of story, honourable children friends?” then give the witty answer.
Lovable Truly spent most of his time protecting his dogs from the villainous Richard Harry Nearly, a silent movie star and part-time dogcatcher. After Nearly was defeated through his own efforts, Lovable would sit down to a delicious bowl of Alpha-Bits in the commercial breaks.
The final cartoon spokesperson, Rory Raccoon, spent his segments defending a cornfield against invading crows, keeping the world safe for bowls of Post Toasties everywhere.
The other remarkable aspect of this show was the voice talent. Linus himself was voiced by veteran TV producer Sheldon Leonard, creator of such classic comedies as The Danny Thomas Show, The Andy Griffith Show, and Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.
Leonard’s friend and co-worker Carl Reiner, who created The Dick Van Dyke Show, also did voices for the cartoon.
Other notable voices were Laugh-In‘s Ruth Buzzi as Granny Goodwitch and Jonathan Winters as a Giant in So-Hi’s segments.
Despite the high calibre of talent, witty writing and superior production values (each 30-minute episode cost around $87,000 to produce – close to three times the norm at the time), the FCC eventually decided the show was little more than a half-hour commercial for cereal, yanking it off the air after five successful seasons.